It's not a fall in the historical perspective
Posted by aogFriday, 05 October 2007 at 11:14 TrackBack Ping URL

erp wonders about the ignorance of the editors of the journalists who are lost in a fog of Disney World ahistoricity.

My friend, the Intrepid Girl Reporter, is of my age and my memory of her college colleagues (now editors and senior journalists) is that they suffered from a lot of reality dysfunction as well. It makes one think that the collapse of journalistic credibility isn’t that things are any worse, just that we’re aware of the problems.

That, however, strikes me as too simplistic a view. Let us not be ahistoric ourselves and keep in mind that not so long ago (less than 100 years) journalists were generally considered one step above patent medicine salemen. The conception of journalists as honest, well informed people is the anomalous state, the true propaganda coup of the profession. Like all Potemkin Villages, however, it was doomed to fail in time.

I think that this phase lasted longer than it would have otherwise because

  • There was a much stronger concensus and a much closer alignment of Old Media and its host society, so the bias didn’t grate or matter as much.
  • There was more of a sense of service to America rather than one’s own career (contrast pre and post Watergate).
  • The senior editors were from the non-professional street wise era, rather than products of a reality insulated educational experience.
  • New broadcast technologies were still impressive and this transferred to its Old Media users.

All of those things have changed now and I think it won’t be that long before journalists are once more on a par with thespians1 used car salesmen and politicians.


1 But these days, were treat thespians with even more unwarranted respect than journalists at their height, so that’s not a good analogy.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Bret Friday, 05 October 2007 at 13:06

I think that they’re already on a par with used car salesmen and politicians. The Left thinks MSM is conservatively biased, the Right think MSM is liberally biased, and everybody thinks they’re incompetent.

erp Saturday, 06 October 2007 at 05:07

There used to be a disconnect between “yellow” journalism, reporting the “news” and editorializing. The news was presented more like Joe Friday’s, “Just the facts, ma’am,” opinion was presented on the editorial pages and yellow journalism was sensationalistic and didn’t appear in august newspapers.

Reporters were bound by their editors to stick to Who, Why, What, How, What, Where, When and adjectives were frowned upon. Opinion pieces weren’t incoherent rants short on facts and long on leftwing propaganda. Sensationalism, long the bad boy of the press, has become its mainstay.

If the supermarket publications were dressed up to look like the Times, you’d be hard spent to distinguish them from the real thing, except the papers at the checkout counter only make up stories about Martians and Elvis sightings while the Times makes up stories about things that really count.

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